To investigate the lipoprotein effects of fenofibrate in hypercholesterolemia or combined hyperlipidemia (types II A and II B hyperlipidemias, respectively), 240 patients were recruited and 227 randomized to a double-blind randomized trial lasting 24 weeks and 192 patients continued to participate in an open-label phase for another 24 weeks. A 100-mg dose of fenofibrate or a matching placebo was given three times daily. Fenofibrate side effects in excess of placebo affected 6 percent of fenofibrate users and were confined almost entirely to skin rashes. In 180 hypercholesterolemic patients randomly assigned to receive fenofibrate versus placebo, triglyceride and very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels decreased 38 percent, total cholesterol levels decreased 17.5 percent, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels decreased 20.3 percent with fenofibrate treatment. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels increased 11.1 percent with a decrease in the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio of 27 percent. All differences were statistically significant (p <0.01). In combined hyperlipidemic (type II B) patients, triglyceride levels decreased by 45 percent, very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels decreased 52.7 percent, total cholesterol levels decreased 16 percent, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels decreased 6 percent, and high-density lipoprotein levels increased 15.3 percent for a low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio decrease of 13 percent. All differences were again statistically significant (p <0.01). In both groups of patients, the onset of the drug effect was generally rapid, with maximal total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level lowering achieved within four weeks in hypercholesterolemic patients and maximal triglyceride and cholesterol level lowering in hypertriglyceridemic patients achieved in two weeks. Maximum high-density lipoprotein increases occurred after four weeks in type II A patients and 12 to 16 weeks in type II B patients. Fenofibrate is a well-tolerated drug in the fibric acid series and has putatively beneficial effects on triglyceride, very low-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations in both type II A and type II B hyperlipidemic patients. If the lipid hypothesis of atherosclerosis applies to the lipoprotein changes induced by fenofibrate, reductions in cardiovascular disease risk in both type II A and II B hyperlipidemic patients should result from fenofibrate treatment.
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